Members of the K'udas Partnership board

Land-based fish farm opening imminent

Bill Cranmer blesses closed-containment fish farm in preparation of the site's opening.

PORT McNEILL—Almost one year ago, ‘Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer blessed the ground on what was to become North America’s first land-based, closed-containment atlantic salmon farm near the banks of the Nimpkish River.

On Monday afternoon, he returned for the same ceremony at the now nearly complete facility.

“That is a prayer song to bless all the people working here,” Cranmer, in full ceremonial regalia, said after singing before an assemblage of K’udas Limited Partnership board members, tribal councillors and a few curious construction workers still applying finishing touches to the huge steel building just off Highway 19.

“That’s a blessing song that’s been handed down from generation to generation. It’s a special feeling to do that here, thinking of the old people who used to do it in this area.”

The $8.5 million, ‘Namgis-owned project is situated on First Nation’s traditional territory, in the vicinity of a pre-contact Kwakwakw’wakw village. K’udas, a Kwa’kwala word meaning “place of salmon”, will become just that next month when the first cohort of 23,000 atlantic salmon smolt are placed in the farm’s quarantine tank.

After growing from about 100 grams each to 650-750 grams over a four-month period, the fish will move on to a series of 500-metre grow-out tanks in the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), where they will spend an additional 8-10 months to reach their market size of four to five kilograms each.

Before the end of the year, those smolt will be market-ready, farm-grown salmon free of any pesticides, antibiotics or interaction with wild salmon stocks and other marine life.

“We’ll take out our first harvest in seven to eight months,” said Cathal Dinneen, plant operations manager. “The first harvest won’t be four to five kilo fish, they’ll be around 2-3 kilos. But eventually we’ll be growing out all the fish to full size, and we’ll be harvesting every two weeks.”

With five of the massive grow-out tanks, the facility is expected to produce 470 tonnes of salmon each year. But the building is just the first module in what could become a five-module plant producing up to 2,500 tonnes of farmed salmon a year.

The aim of the project is to prove land-based salmon farming is an economically viable way to grow and market high-quality fish. The RAS technology itself is proven, with operating plants in Europe and Iceland and one in West Virginia, in the U.S., growing turbot.

But the ‘Namgis First Nation specifically wanted to prove the viability of the system as a way to replace open-net pen farming in British Columbia waters, which has come under fire from critics for spreading disease among wild salmon stocks and its impacts to the marine environment from the discharge of waste laced with antibiotics and pesticides.

The fish in the ‘Namgis closed-containment system will be grown in fresh water provided by a natural artesian aquifer. The smolts in the quarantine tank will be treated only by a specialized bacteria, housed in a separate biofilter unit, which will remove the metabolites produced by the salmon to keep their water free of toxins.

“We’ve been growing the bacteria for the last month,” said Dinneen. “Because we have fish arriving in a few weeks, we needed the bacteria before they get here. It’s done; the biofilters are fully seeded ahead of schedule and we’re ready to go.”

Even as the board and council toured the plant Monday, a large electrical transformer was being installed at one side of the building. A generator has been handling the pumping of the biofilter until now, but, Dineen said, a full hydo connection is expected late this week or next week at the latest. The final construction remaining involves the monitoring and alarm systems, part of which is completed, and installation of partition walls to separate the quarantine unit and the grow-out units in the biosecure facility.

The first smolts, delivered through a contract with Marine Harvest, are expected to be delivered between March 10-20.

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy’s RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen: ‘It’s business as usual’ after cannabis legalization

Local RCMP will still be on the lookout for impaired driving despite cannabis legalization.

Jay Dixon finishes top three for School and District Leadership award

“I believe it’s all of our responsibility for our schools to provide quality education,” said Dixon.

7 Mile Landfill operations tender closes October

Taxes covering the landfill have not increased over the past 15 years and are not expected to soon.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

San Group announces plans to build new sawmill in Port Alberni

San Group has purchased 25 acres of Catalyst Paper land for expansion

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

Port Hardy municipal candidate Rick Marcotte’s profile

“I feel that we have had a wonderful council that can discuss issues of importance,” said Marcotte.

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

Port Hardy municipal election candidate Leightan Wishart’s profile

Wishart speaks on his experience: “I’ve was elected to the School Board in 2002.”

Most Read